How To Tell Your SSD Is Failing [6 Warning Signs]

CG Director Author Christopher Harperby Christopher Harper   /  Published 

Ever wondered how to tell your SSD is failing? You’ve come to the right place.

In this article, I’ll be telling you what warning signs to look out for concerning your SSD, and ways to troubleshoot or even fix the problems you’re having with your SSD.

Let’s not waste any time, and dive right in!

A Brief on SSD and HDD Failure Rates

So, a little-known fact: SSDs are actually less likely to fail than traditional HDDs!

Hard Disk Drive vs Solid State Drive - How do they work

Early-generation SSDs weren’t quite as refined for a long life of operation as HDDs, but these days the expectation is that under regular use, either drive type should last up to ten years.

SSDs are even considered more durable than HDDs, since their lack of moving parts* makes them less likely to fail due to rattle or physical shock.

*The “no moving parts” aspect of SSDs is exactly what makes them Solid State Storage.

How To Tell If Your SSD Is Failing: 5 Warning Signs

Signs of a failing SSD

Now, let’s talk about the warning signs of a potentially-failing SSD!

1. Noticeably Slower Performance

The most obvious cause for concern would be if your SSD begins having noticeably slower performance. While this could be caused by filling an SSD to near-capacity, this slowdown being present even with storage to spare could be indicative of an issue with your solid-state drive.

The entire point of an SSD compared to an HDD is to make your PC as rapid-fire as possible when launching applications— even on low-end machines, an SSD can noticeably improve the user experience.

If your SSD-equipped PC is less responsive than it used to be, that could very well be a sign of storage problems.

2. Boot Issues

Another major issue for an SSD would be boot issues (delayed boot times, interrupted boots), particularly if you are using your SSD as your Operating System Boot Drive.

SSDs are prioritized as boot drives, even in systems using one or more HDDs, since launching the operating system is typically the most time-consuming thing a computer can do.

SSD vs HDD Boot Times

Source: Easypc

Especially in the eras of HDDs or (god forbid) 5400 RPM laptop HDDS, launching a PC without an SSD used to take actual minutes compared to the rapid launch times standard on today’s devices.

3. Mandatory File System Repairs

Another sign that something may be wrong with your SSD is if you’re forced to do file system repairs.

Generally speaking, a storage drive’s file system is usually a very set-and-forget thing. You format your storage drive either when you’re installing the operating system to begin with, or after installing the new drive alongside your original boot drive. This shouldn’t cause any long-term issues.

Thus, forced file system repairs may be a sign of pending hardware failure or software/hardware issues elsewhere in your PC interfering with the operation of your Solid State Drive.

4. The Read-Only Error

So, this is a pretty major issue, but also something of a saving grace if you’re able to get your hands on a new storage drive or backup your most important files elsewhere.

A “read-only error” is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: your SSD can no longer write files, only read them.

This means you should still be able to boot into Windows and such, but actually updating the OS, downloading new files, or editing current files won’t be available to you unless you have another storage drive available.

5. A Blue Screen of Death

Blue Screen of Death

Image Credit: Microsoft

As spooky as a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) is, by itself, it isn’t necessarily a cause for concern, especially if it doesn’t happen to recur.

A BSOD can also be caused by pretty much any component in your system at a given time.

The modern PC operating system is a complex creature with a lot of moving parts (in software), and a BSOD is what happens when, for whatever reason, those parts stop working together properly. If you’re lucky, you’ll only see it once and be allowed to forget about it.

However, a recurring BSOD is a cause for serious concern. If this is happening to you, it’s important to make note of the error code given to you with the BSOD, since this will give you the most insight as to how to diagnose what component or application in your system is causing the problem.

Using Windows’ Event Viewer is also a good option, provided you’re able to boot into Windows without blue-screening.

6. Bad S.M.A.R.T Health Score or Failure

While the above signs may hint at an SSD issue, the culprit can easily lie elsewhere as well. To truly gauge your SSD’s health, it’s best to use a targeted tool that can actually analyze and estimate if your SSD is likely to fail or is already failing.

S.M.A.R.T (stands for Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology) is such a system put in place to keep an eye on a myriad of indicators in how an SSD has been used so far and helps us extrapolate and ultimately prevent an SSD failure by replacing it before it’s too late.

Here’s how to read your SSD’s S.M.A.R.T score and health status:

How To Troubleshoot Your SSD

Now that we’ve talked about the major warning signs, let’s talk about what you can do to help troubleshoot or even potentially fix your SSD issues!

1. Install and Run CrystalDiskInfo

The first thing I recommend is installing and running a tool that can read S.M.A.R.T data, such as CrystalDiskInfo.


CrystalDiskInfo is a freeware application that can be used to check the current health status of any storage drive installed inside your system.

As you can see, my boot SATA SSD in the screenshot above has been soldiering along without a hitch in my PC (and the PC I had prior) for over 17 Thousand Hours. My other (NVMe) SSDs also report good health in CrystalDiskInfo.

2. Run a System File Check

So, good news! If you’re following this guide in order and you’ve verified through CrystalDiskInfo that your SSD drive is in good health, the issues you’re dealing with can most likely be resolved through Windows’ existing built-in repair tools.

The first one you’ll want to run is a system file check.

Windows Command Prompt

In order to do this, open an Elevated* Command Prompt and type “sfc /scannow” in order to have Windows scan your operating system files.

If files are determined to be missing or corrupted, they’ll be automatically re-downloaded from the Internet and applied to your OS, which should fix the issues you’re having if SFC recognizes something is wrong.

Compared to the next step in this process, a System File Check is also a pretty quick process, even if it needs to repair or replace some system files. If SFC doesn’t show anything or doesn’t fix your issues, though, it may be time to proceed…

*An “Elevated” Command Prompt is just a Command Prompt run with Administrator privileges.

3. Run a Disk Check

Finally, it might just be time to run a disk check. No one wants to run a disk check, because even if you’re using a fast SSD it can be fairly time-consuming.

Large storage drives are particularly painful to run a disk check on, especially if they happen to be HDDs.

Like with the System File Check described above, you’ll want to run an Elevated Command Prompt in order to run a Disk Check.

The command will be “chkdsk /f”, which will run Windows’ Disk Check utility and have it try to automatically fix any errors you may encounter. A Disk Check may also run faster or have better results if done in Safe Mode.


How Do You Estimate The Remaining Lifespan of An SSD?

Wanna know how to estimate the lifespan of your SSD?

Fortunately, if you’ve followed this guide and installed CrystalDiskInfo, you’ll be in a good place to determine that.

For some more insight into the data provided by CDI, as well as a list of best practices for extending the lifespan of your drive, consider Alex’s full guide linked above!

Are SATA or NVMe SSDs More Reliable?

Despite the many differences between SATA and NVMe SSDs, the different forms have no real difference in terms of long-term reliability.

In theory, some current-generation NVMe SSDs may expire sooner due to generating much more heat when in use than a SATA drive— to the point some NVMes require a dedicated heatsink in order to not overheat during operation.

However, if you’re concerned about this, be sure to double-check that the SSD brand you’re buying from offers a good warranty for at least five years out.

Are Internal or External SSDs More Reliable?

So, there are also some differences between Internal and External SSDs, especially in terms of connection standards used and maximum speeds that can be achieved.

Overall, any difference in reliability here would manifest due to the fact that one of them (External) is being carried around with you on a (presumably) semi-regular basis, whereas Internal SSDs are pretty set-and-forget in comparison.

However, even an External SSD shouldn’t be that much more likely to fail than an Internal SSD, unless you were to remove it from your device mid-read or mid-write operation.

Since SSDs have no moving parts, they have a lot more defense against potential drops than HDDs, especially external HDDs. However, an external drive of any kind is still going to inherently carry more risk, especially if you don’t get an external SSD with a rugged enclosure.

Overall, I’d say Internal SSDs are more reliable, just due to the reduced risk factor of using them in comparison.

Over to You

And that’s it!

I hope that this article helped you determine whether or not your SSD is failing, and potentially helped you fix any problems you were having that made you worry enough about it failing to end up here.

No one wants to see their storage drives up and die, and fortunately, modern storage drives are fairly reliable across-the-board.

However, we do not live in a perfect world, so be sure to keep your warranty and return information on hand whenever you buy a new storage drive.

For that matter, also be sure to back up your most important files on another drive or on a secure cloud server, so they aren’t lost in case your storage happens to fail!

With all that said, it’s about time for me to sign out for this article.

If you have any questions left about SSDs or PC hardware in general, feel free to ask them in the comments below! Alternatively, you can also head over to our Forums for more in-depth questions, or just to share your own projects with a community of Enthusiasts and Experts.

Until then or until next time, happy building! And…hopefully your SSD isn’t dead. My condolences if so.

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Christopher Harper

I have been a passionate devotee to technology since the age of 3, and to writing since before I even finished high school.

These passions have since combined into a living in my adulthood and have made writing about PC Hardware very satisfying.

If you need any assistance, leave a comment below: it’s what I’m here for.


Also check out our Forum for feedback from our Expert Community.

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